Diplomats in Australia warned of threat before suspicious packages arrived in mail

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-10 10:18:36|Editor: ZD
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CANBERRA, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Diplomatic missions in Australia were warned to expect suspicious packages before envelopes containing asbestos arrived at consulates in Melbourne on Jan. 9, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has confirmed.

Hazardous material alerts were issued for more than a dozen consulates across Melbourne on Jan. 9 after consulates of the U.S., Pakistan, Switzerland and New Zealand received packages containing asbestos.

The packages arrived one day after DFAT on Jan. 8 warned all diplomatic missions in the country to be on the lookout for suspicious packages after three similar incidents occurred in Sydney and Canberra.

"After learning of incidents at three offices in Sydney and Canberra, DFAT sent a note to all diplomatic missions in Canberra on Jan. 8 alerting them to the possibility of suspicious packages being delivered by mail," the department said in a statement on Thursday.

The note advised missions to handle mail in accordance with their own government's protocols and instructions.

It also included Australian Federal Police (AFP) guidance on handling suspicious mail and advised missions to contact the AFP Protection Liaison Team to report any concerns or incidents.

"Similar advice was subsequently provided to consulates around Australia," the department said.

The Argentinian consulate in Sydney on Jan. 7 received three bags containing asbestos and fibreglass.

Emergency service workers also attended the Greek, Italian, South Korean, Indian, French and Spanish consulates in Melbourne on Jan. 9 after they reported suspicious packages.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced to have been investigating the source of the packages.